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  1. #1
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    Arrow Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism
    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Aug. 28 2005

    Ayear ago in this space, when assigned to assess the Rams' prospects for 2004,
    I fretted over the Rams' erosion of talent. I expressed anxiety over the state
    of the team's dazed and confused defense, which was symbolized by lightweight
    linebackers.

    It was concluded that a 9-7 record was about the best the 2004 Rams could
    accomplish. And we weren't far off, as the Rams finished with an 8-8 record
    that was their ticket to the postseason in a down year for the NFC.

    I am no Nostradamus, or even Chris Mortensen.

    But my optimism over the 2005 Rams exceeds the confidence I had in the 2004
    Rams late last summer.

    Why? There's a historical parallel.

    In 2000, the Rams were doomed by a pathetic, porous defense that was gashed for
    more points than 30 NFL teams and more yards than 23 teams.

    Coach Mike Martz responded aggressively and made the reconstruction of that
    defense his top offseason priority. An influx of talent produced a No. 7
    defensive ranking for points allowed and a No. 3 ranking for yards against, and
    the Rams' offense had the support it needed to go 14-2 and return to the Super
    Bowl.

    After last season's lurching performance, Martz arrived at a similar
    intersection before 2005. The Rams' defense was terrible last season, ranking
    25th in points allowed and 17th in yards against. The futile attempt to cover
    up this defense was ripped open and exposed by Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn and
    the Atlanta Falcons in the humiliating defeat that ran the Rams out of the
    Georgia Dome and the 2004 postseason.

    On a lesser scale, when compared to the makeover in 2001, Martz tried to fix
    his defense and special teams by hiring free-agent linebackers Chris Claiborne
    and Dexter Coakley and adding fresh legs to the secondary. He also addressed
    the philosophical and personnel problems on special teams. Martz was determined
    to fill in the holes.

    Because of salary-cap issues, Martz and the Rams weren't able to overhaul the
    defense as dramatically as they did before 2001, but the new pieces should fit
    nicely to solidify weak spots. The Rams should go 11-5 and prevail in the
    mediocre NFC West, and if the offense takes off and soars the way Martz expects
    it to, this group has a shot to play for the NFC championship.

    OK . . .

    Is this the point in the column where I'm supposed to psychoanalyze Martz?

    Well, I'm handing in my pop psychology license.

    Martz will be evaluated here based on how he coaches and how his team performs
    under his leadership. It's what I've tried to do, pro and con. Martz has been
    an extreme coach; his strengths and his flaws often are so profound that it's
    impossible for an objective observer to ignore the plusses to dwell on his
    negatives and vice versa.

    But at the risk of inflaming the anti-Martz mob, I'm not sure why he's
    supposedly in danger of being fired unless this team implodes in a disastrous
    season. Martz's winning percentage as a head coach here is .637, which easily
    tops the records of all previous head coaches in St. Louis NFL history.

    Before Martz arrived as offensive coordinator in 1999, the St. Louis Cardinals
    and Rams had won 43.6 percent of their games, while making the playoffs only
    three times in 32 seasons, with no postseason wins. Since Martz entered to
    redesign and run the 1999 offense (then taking over as head coach in 2000), the
    Rams' winning percentage is .667, with six postseason victories and two trips
    to the Super Bowl. As a head coach, four of his five teams have qualified for
    the playoffs averaging more than 25 points a game.

    I'm sorry, but does this really qualify as football hell?

    This isn't to suggest that Martz should be immune to criticism or insulated
    from a potential dismissal. If the special teams continue to flop, it's on him.
    If this defense doesn't click for defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, then the
    blame rests with Martz for sticking with his pal Marmie instead of hiring a
    more imaginative and inspirational defensive coordinator. If Martz's sideline
    screw-ups result in crucial victories being thrown away, that's his
    responsibility, and he'll be called out on it.

    But remember, Martz isn't alone at Rams Park. The infighting and politics
    continue in Earth City. That's disturbing. The executives being paid so
    handsomely by the franchise owe any Rams head coach their full support.

    John Shaw, Jay Zygmunt, Charley Armey, Bob Wallace and Samir Suleiman work for
    the Rams, and their job is to do everything possible to help this organization
    win. Be it Martz or another man, I don't care who sits in the head coach's
    office at Rams Park. The head coach should be backed, not back-stabbed, by
    associates.



  2. #2
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    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    It's sad when logic and reason has to come from (of all places) B.M. He didn't report anything new, but at least he made sense.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  3. #3
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    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Before Martz arrived as offensive coordinator in 1999, the St. Louis Cardinals
    and Rams had won 43.6 percent of their games, while making the playoffs only
    three times in 32 seasons, with no postseason wins. Since Martz entered to
    redesign and run the 1999 offense (then taking over as head coach in 2000), the
    Rams' winning percentage is .667, with six postseason victories and two trips
    to the Super Bowl. As a head coach, four of his five teams have qualified for
    the playoffs averaging more than 25 points a game.
    What a record. Geez, we got to get rid of this coach. We can't have our team making the playoffs so much.


  4. #4
    jkramsfan Guest

    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    If Your Happy With Just Getting To The Playoffs Then Sure Hes The Coach You Want, Hell Give Him A Contract Extension, But I Think With All This Talent And With The Number Of Potential Hall Of Famers On This Team,we Should Be Doing More Than Just Making The Playoffs.

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    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Number of potential Hall of Famers....let's see....

    Faulk
    Bruce
    Holt.........

    Help please. Those three don't a team make.

  6. #6
    jkramsfan Guest

    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    You Forgot Pace And Possibly Timmerman, And Aeneas Williams Who If You Remember Played And May Still Play Up Until This Year.thats 6,something Most Teams Would Love To Have.but Like I Said If You Like Being Just Good Than Martz Is Our Guy.

  7. #7
    jkramsfan Guest

    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    What I Didnt Say Is I Like Martz But This Team Is To Talented Not To Get Further Than It Has,i Feel The Same Way About The Colts, I Really Think Dungy Has To Get Over The Hump,so Talented On Offense But Not A Whole Lot To Show For It.

  8. #8
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    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Aneas and Pace are givens, I'll take that. However, how's that relevant? The Rams are two inches away from beating Carolina in the playoffs two years ago, Wilkins just fell a bit short. Last year, the O line wasn't very good but talent took us as far as we could go. Bruce isn't the same as he was in 1999 neither was A Williams.

    However, if you only base your coaching on Super Bowls, then stock up on Rolaids.

  9. #9
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    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Quote Originally Posted by jkramsfan
    If Your Happy With Just Getting To The Playoffs Then Sure Hes The Coach You Want, Hell Give Him A Contract Extension, But I Think With All This Talent And With The Number Of Potential Hall Of Famers On This Team,we Should Be Doing More Than Just Making The Playoffs.
    jk, you're going to have to help me with this one. I just don't understand the idea that a SB victory is the only acceptable answer. It's like Tiger Woods tinkering with his swing every time he doesn't hit a hole in one. I don't care how talented a team is, they can't be held to a standard of winning the SB at all, much less every year. First off, the talented team is not always the winner, that's why games are played. Second, our "perceived" glut of talent is not so great as to be unbeatable. At this level, any team is capable of beating any team. When a talented team loses, it's not some David and Goliath story, nor is there a need to place specific blame. The talent level in the NFL is so even that the worst team in the league can and will at times beat the best team in the league (ie. December 20th, 2004 - Miami Dolphins (4-12) beat the SB champion Patriots 29-28)

    This "talented" team is not that much more talented than most and is less so than others.

    In this day and age, I'll take 4 postseasons in 5 years everytime.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  10. #10
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    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Quote Originally Posted by jkramsfan
    This Team Is To Talented Not To Get Further Than It Has,i Feel The Same Way About The Colts, I Really Think Dungy Has To Get Over The Hump,so Talented On Offense But Not A Whole Lot To Show For It.
    It's because you don't win with just a good offense. Look at the years we got to the SB. Great offense, but also a strong defense. In 1999, the Rams defense ranked fourth in points allowed and seventh in total yards allowed. In 2001, the Rams ranked seventh in points allowed and third in total yards allowed. This was while ranking first offensively in points and yards.

    That's what I don't understand about the whole "there's too much talent on this team" argument. We have talent at skill positions on offense, but a closer look reveals there are some question marks - inconsistent running game, questionable offensive line, not much going on at tight end, red zone problems. Defensively, we haven't been competitive since 2001, and that's been one of the main reasons for our downfall in the post-season (Atlanta last year, Carolina in 2003).

    There's a reason that high powered offenses with weak defenses - the Rams, Colts, Chiefs, Packers, Vikings - have done well enough in the regular season but can't make the final jump in the post-season. You need to be strong on both fronts, especially for the Rams, who run an offense that will take some risks and give some balls away from time to time.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Before Martz arrived as offensive coordinator in 1999, the St. Louis Cardinals
    and Rams had won 43.6 percent of their games, while making the playoffs only
    three times in 32 seasons, with no postseason wins
    Don't add the Cards and our Rams numbers together please...

  12. #12
    STLRAMSFAN Guest

    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Quote Originally Posted by jkramsfan
    What I Didnt Say Is I Like Martz But This Team Is To Talented Not To Get Further Than It Has,i Feel The Same Way About The Colts, I Really Think Dungy Has To Get Over The Hump,so Talented On Offense But Not A Whole Lot To Show For It.
    ^
    If your measuring stick is the super bowl only one can win the super bowl. They both canít win the super bowl every year so one will always be underachieving.


    I think its natural for fans to think more of their players then what their true net value is. When the team does not play good they like to blame the coach because they hold their players in high regard and they always like to second guess after seeing the results of a bad outcome. They like to think what they would have done different so their player or team would have made the play. Then when things go right its always thatís my player its not thatís my coach.

    All bet that their are at least 10 other teams fans that could make a pretty convincing case for their talent as an overall team being better All bet those fans also think they should be doing better then the playoffs. The realty of the situation is we are weak in areas and strong in others itís called parity. The salary cap has made it truly competitive. One reason New England has done so good is they donít have a bunch of exceptional talent. They have a bunch of good players not great.
    If we did not try to keep our great player like Bruce, Holt, Pace, and Little then maybe we could have more good players instead of a few great players. That is not a risk that many people including myself would want to take. Itís tough when you do good to stay good because the price of your players go up.

    I have to agree with Nick that our defense has never been what I would call great. The other thing is with the salary cap we lost London Fletcher(LB), Dre Bly(CB), Grant Wistrom(DE), Kevin Carter (DL), and Fred Miller (RT) among others. Those are some key spots in areas we have had an issues in recent years.

    When you are at the top of the mountain there is only one place to go and that is down. Eventually we will not be a playoff team. However I think we have done a great job of prolonging the inevitable. We made the transition from league MVPs at QB and at RB with what I consider a smooth transition. Not to many head coaches could have made that smooth of a transition.

    No other coach could have made QBs out of a stock boy Warner and a wimpy looking Bulger (I am not saying he is wimpy he just looks the part). Most coaches would not have even let them carry the equipment bags for the rest of team.

  13. #13
    STLRAMSFAN Guest

    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Duplicate Duplicate
    Last edited by STLRAMSFAN; -08-29-2005 at 11:33 PM.

  14. #14
    Tony Soprano Guest

    Re: Martz has made repairs, so go easy on the criticism

    Quote Originally Posted by NickSeiler
    It's because you don't win with just a good offense. Look at the years we got to the SB. Great offense, but also a strong defense. In 1999, the Rams defense ranked fourth in points allowed and seventh in total yards allowed. In 2001, the Rams ranked seventh in points allowed and third in total yards allowed. This was while ranking first offensively in points and yards.

    That's what I don't understand about the whole "there's too much talent on this team" argument. We have talent at skill positions on offense, but a closer look reveals there are some question marks - inconsistent running game, questionable offensive line, not much going on at tight end, red zone problems. Defensively, we haven't been competitive since 2001, and that's been one of the main reasons for our downfall in the post-season (Atlanta last year, Carolina in 2003).

    There's a reason that high powered offenses with weak defenses - the Rams, Colts, Chiefs, Packers, Vikings - have done well enough in the regular season but can't make the final jump in the post-season. You need to be strong on both fronts
    That's what I'm talking about. Nick nailed it. You have to be strong both ways, or you'll be exposed come playoff time. The Vikings have had a GREAT OFFENSE for years but perrenially get handed their heads in the playoffs. This year, the Vikings totally retooled their DEF realizing exactly what Nick has espoused in his post. My God, look at the COLTs recording setting Touchdowns but they have a porous DEF. The COLTS still haven't fixed their DEF. So, as strong as Manning and Co. are they'll lose again in the playoffs due to their D.

    If Martz has a weakness, it's believing that his OFFENSE can overcome Major weaknesses. For example, a mediocre journeyman RIght OT is good enough with all of weapons. Or the DEF only needs to slow the other team down.

    I REALLY like Martz, but I wonder how such a smart man can continually come into camp with holes in our OL (like ROT).

    He's on the case, so we should all feel better..

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